Closed captions are a great resource to make video and audio content more accessible. Even those with excellent hearing can benefit from the availability of captions in content. Up until recently, adding captions to content was a time consuming process, and involved writing a transcript for spoken words, then syncing the timing of those words with the media being played. YouTube uses speech recognition to identify spoken words in content, and create captions for all videos automatically. Unfortunately, all sources of media cannot count on using Google’s speech recognition to add captions, as it is a proprietary Google technology.
The latest feature update to Windows 11 adds “Live Captions” at the system level. This will use the Microsoft equivalent speech recognition to add captions to any audio being played by the system, no matter the source. This can include videos from YouTube, videos uploaded to Canvas Studio, videos from news sources, literally any audio source. If sound is produced by your computer, it will add captions to it.
Live captions are available to any user of Windows 11 after the release of 22H2. Make sure you are running the latest version of Windows by installing any updates that are pending.
Turning on Live Captions
- Click the “Start” button on the taskbar
- Type “settings” into the search field
- Open the “Settings” app that appears
- The “Settings” app should launch. On the left hand side, scroll and click on “Accessibility”.
- This will bring you to the Accessibility panel, where users have access to various settings that can make using the system easier. Scroll down to the “Hearing” section, and click on “Captions”.
- By default, “Live captions” are turned off. To turn them on, click the on/off toggle next to “Live captions”.
- The caption area will appear at the top of your screen, where users are prompted to download captions. Click the “Download” button to download the resources necessary to process captions locally on your device.
- When the download is complete, the caption area will read “Ready to caption”. At this point you can close the “Settings” app and play your media.
Customizing the Captions Area
Microsoft built in a few customization options to “Live captions”. To access them, click the “Settings” button at the top right of the screen. You can change the position of the captions area, filter out profanity, and even include microphone audio (in case you wanted to caption live speech in your classroom).